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This is what Anglo-Saxon scholars do with their ancient knowledge
February 12, 2014 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Hwæt sæġþ sē fox, ē?. (the original)
posted by MartinWisse (49 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Toot?
posted by yoink at 12:51 PM on February 12


See also.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:51 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


As far as I can tell old Anglo-Saxon is English after a lot of novacaine injections.
posted by The Whelk at 12:54 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Idea: next Super Bowl, have cute kids in a Coke ad sing America the Beautiful in Old English. Then sit back and watch racist twitter's head explode.
posted by phunniemee at 12:55 PM on February 12 [25 favorites]


The answer.
posted by yoink at 12:58 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Hit biþ what is ærendgewrit on the tin.
posted by kyrademon at 1:04 PM on February 12 [12 favorites]


As far as I can tell old Anglo-Saxon is English after a lot of novacaine injections.

Actually, it's Ecclesiastical Latin interrupted by a lot of dawdling.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:08 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Years ago, I got out of some horrible social engagement by claiming I'd sworn to a friend that I would translate "Gin and Juice" into Latin for a project, only to have to actually do it the next day when they asked if they could see my translation. I did at least get to write down stuff like, "Comes meus Dr. Dreus perambulavit cum multo Tanqueraea," and to tax the absolute limit of my first year Latin skills.

Anyway, I just kind of assume that's how most of these translations happen. That and the related category of drunken bets.
posted by Copronymus at 1:17 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Hwæt?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:18 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell old Anglo-Saxon is English after a lot of novacaine injections.

I always assumed certain differences in pronunciation versus spelling (eg. boatswain->bosun) were due to teeth rotting out, but you could be on to something.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:20 PM on February 12


Wait, maybe this explains it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:24 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Anyway, I just kind of assume that's how most of these translations happen. That and the related category of drunken bets.

Don't forget avoiding other work, I was definitely procrastinating on something important when I decided to translate the Mariah Carey song 'Fantasy' in to Latin.

O, ubi ambulas omnis nox....
posted by troika at 1:40 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


He also kills Nazis for fun!
posted by b1tr0t at 1:51 PM on February 12


Er. I'm just going to leave here Verres Militares and Modela Est.
posted by sukeban at 1:52 PM on February 12


I can't imagine Old English would really have a word for 'elephant.' Unless Hannibal made a trip or two up there in times gone by.
posted by randomination at 2:11 PM on February 12


Hwæt
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:12 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Oh thank goodness.
posted by davidjmcgee at 2:12 PM on February 12


I can't imagine Old English would really have a word for 'elephant.' Unless Hannibal made a trip or two up there in times gone by.

They'd heard of them.
posted by yoink at 2:25 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


> I can't imagine Old English would really have a word for 'elephant.' Unless Hannibal made a trip or two up there in times gone by.

Do you never talk about anything that isn't right in front of you? I mean, why do you have a word for 'elephant' unless you work at a zoo? The Anglo-Saxons needed a word for 'elephant' because they translated a lot of Latin literature. They (naturally) borrowed the Latin word, in the form elpend, sometimes shortened to elp or ylp (c1000 in T. Wright & R. P. Wülcker Anglo-Saxon & Old Eng. Vocab. I. 320 "Elefans, ylp").
posted by languagehat at 2:27 PM on February 12 [25 favorites]


I call shenanigans. I do not believe that foxes say any of those things. I also doubt they engage in synchronized dancing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:30 PM on February 12


Well, they had a word for twēt, and you'll have a hard time convincing me any of them had smartphones.
posted by dhartung at 2:59 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


(Not Anglo-Saxon, but for a cool elephant see f. 39r of Harley 3244)
posted by junco at 3:02 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


how often did Shakespeare reference Beowulf? Anyone have any idea?

Guess and i will give you the actual total below. Don't even try googling it. You will get nothing bwahahaha
posted by Colonel Panic at 3:05 PM on February 12


I also doubt they engage in synchronized dancing.

They prefer ballroom.
posted by yoink at 3:06 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I don't think Beowulf was known in Shakespeare's time. At best a few antiquarians were aware of its existence.

But anyway, do surprise me if I'm wrong.
posted by Thing at 3:17 PM on February 12


I think I must be the only person out there who hate-loves Beowulf and Grendel -- so wrong (stirrups? cleavage? Sarah fucking Polley?), so right (yes, PONIES!), and so instructive (I guess troll pee would smell unspeakably awful).

(Try to see it full size instead of that wee YT version: the scenery is gorgeous).
posted by maudlin at 3:19 PM on February 12


Sarah fucking Polley

What?
posted by yoink at 3:24 PM on February 12


She's Sarah Very Worthy of Respect Polley in many, many roles. She's Sarah Fucking Polley when she is in a totally unsuitable role like the one she played in this movie (a Scandinavian witch with an accent and affect straight outta the Annex).

I realize I left out the capital F in Fucking, which may have confused you, but then again, I did watch a bit of the movie again and it's a guaranteed brain-scrambler.
posted by maudlin at 3:34 PM on February 12


Hasn't been kept up to date, but the Circolwyrde Wordhord (Computer Glossary) is a good example of what Anglo-Saxon scholars do with their idle cycles.
posted by Creosote at 3:41 PM on February 12


There also used to be a "New Anglo Saxon Chronicle" with today's events in Old English. It was good to know that lots of feng to rice-ing still takes place.
posted by Thing at 4:23 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I realize I left out the capital F in Fucking, which may have confused you

No, it was just the implication that casting Sarah Polley is a bizarre, movie-ruining move. I'll take your word for it that she doesn't work in this (I don't think I'll ever watch it), but as a rule of thumb I would say that most movies could only be improved by having more of Sarah Polley.
posted by yoink at 4:24 PM on February 12


lolhwæt
posted by drlith at 4:27 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Circolwyrde Wordhord

Now I know what words to use in my upcoming unreadable Saxonpunk novel:

"Aelfric slammed his hands down on the cægbord as the wætcristallasceawung went dead. The feondsceaða had severed the neahstownett's connection with steorarum."
posted by BungaDunga at 4:32 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


My goodness I don't enough chances to post this, so here it is again:

Beowulf Meets Godsylla

Meanehwæl, baccat meaddehæle, / monstær lurccen;
Fulle few too many drincce, / hie luccen for fyht.
Ðen Hreorfneorhtðhwr, / son of Hrwærowþheororthwl,
Æsccen æwful jeork / to steop outsyd.
Þhud! Bashe! Crasch! Beoom! / Ðe bigge gye
Eallum his bon brak, / byt his nose offe;
Wicced Godsylla / wæld on his asse.
Monstær moppe fleor wyþ / eallum men in hælle.
Beowulf in bacceroome / fonecall bamaccen wæs;
Hearen sond of ruccus / sæd, “Hwæt ðe helle?”
Graben sheold strang / ond swich-blæd scharp
Stond feorth to fyht / ðe grimlic foe.
“Me,” Godsylla sæd, / “mac ðe minsemete.”
Heoro cwyc geten heold / wiþ fæmed half-nelson
Ond flyng him lic frisbe / bac to fen
Beowulf belly up / to meaddehæle bar,
Sæd, “Ne foe beaten / mie færsom cung-fu.”
Eorderen cocca-cohla / yce-coeld, ðe reol þyng.


(source)

In fact, apropos of nothing, I tell you that this very day I said "Hwæt ðe helle?" to myself.
posted by jquinby at 5:41 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


I also doubt they engage in synchronized dancing.
They prefer ballroom.
posted by yoink


I thought they liked the Foxtrot.
posted by 445supermag at 6:16 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


They had elephants.
posted by salishsea at 6:39 PM on February 12


No, it was just the implication that casting Sarah Polley is a bizarre, movie-ruining move. I'll take your word for it that she doesn't work in this (I don't think I'll ever watch it), but as a rule of thumb I would say that most movies could only be improved by having more of Sarah Polley.

Actually, she's the worst bit of Road to Avonlea and not particularly good in Jane of Lantern Hill. Maybe I shouldn't pick on her because she was just a kid in both productions, but she was terribly miscast. The character she was supposed to play in Road to Avonlea is described in the book as a tall, gangly, somewhat unattractive 13-year old (older than the other characters and on the cusp of puberty while they are still fully children), whose beauty only shines as she transforms herself into other characters while story-telling and who is otherwise often weird and dreamy/off-putting.

So they cast a small, young, cute blond girl who has an extremely practical and down-to-earth manner (as the character was played) and who gives up telling stories somewhere after the first few episodes. Someone - casting director, writer or director - got the character so very wrong, and I think they realized it and acknowledged it by dropping the "Story Girl" nickname entirely after the first episode.

So yeah, Sarah Polley and I (who are of an age) did not get off to a good start as actor and viewer. My annoyance continues because she continues to be feted by the Canadian media-ocracy to a disproportionate degree to her talent. I've since seen her act as an adult and she's a good actor - but she's never shined for me and she's certainly not among the best of Canadian film and theatre.
posted by jb at 6:57 PM on February 12


As for the Old English: that is just brilliant.
posted by jb at 6:58 PM on February 12


They had elephants.
Not only were those people not Anglo-Saxons, those people weren't even Homo sapiens.
posted by Flunkie at 7:03 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I want to see someone do this Eurovision style now.
posted by immlass at 7:13 PM on February 12


"Comes meus Dr. Dreus perambulavit cum multo Tanqueraea,"

By coincidence, the lyrics to Gin & Juice were a common default starting text for when I used to goof around with Babelfish translator. Probably because a friend had made a mixtape with various cover versions around the same time. (Best cover: Jack Handey)
posted by ovvl at 9:18 PM on February 12


If we're talking dead languages, I'm just wondering—how much truth is there to the bad gag I heard as a kid that "Aeris dies" was Latin for "payday"?
posted by KChasm at 9:28 PM on February 12


Aes --> money, pay, payment. Genitive "aeris" (pronounced sort of like "Irish").
Dies --> day (as in Dies Irae). But it is pronounced "dee-es", not "dyes". So kind of, but only when written.
posted by sukeban at 11:21 PM on February 12


Well, everyone I know who'd laugh at a joke based on dodgy Latin is on the other side of a computer screen anyway.
posted by KChasm at 11:33 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I know a bunch of medieval reenactors who are also ASNAC (anglo-saxon, norse and celtic) Cambridge graduates. I wonder how much mead I'd have to give them in to perform this accompanied by medieval instruments.
posted by Zarkonnen at 2:37 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


If we're talking dead languages, I'm just wondering—how much truth is there to the bad gag I heard as a kid that "Aeris dies" was Latin for "payday"?

Related stupid Latin-English joke: Semper Ubi Sub Ubi ("Always Where Under Where").
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:41 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


> "I know a bunch of medieval reenactors who are also ASNAC (anglo-saxon, norse and celtic) Cambridge graduates ..."

So if they met a friendly horse,
They would speak to it in Norse?
posted by kyrademon at 10:50 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


What does John Locke say? [old-English-free]
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:04 PM on February 13


> "What does John Locke say?"

Disappointing. Come on, there's potential for so much better. Here's my stab at a start:

Mill says Free,
Marx says Slave,
Smith says Wealth,
And Hume says Mind.

Peirce says Think,
Jung says Feel,
And the Schopenhauer says Will.
Hobbes says Rights, and Sartre says Be,
And the Kant says We Kant Know,

But there's one School that no one knows ...
WHAT DOES JOHN LOCKE SAY?

Etc.
posted by kyrademon at 6:32 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


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